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An Outline investigation found that contributors to prominent publications have taken payments in exchange for positive coverage.
I love that Jon, the author, covered this problem in such an in-depth piece of journalism.
Two things the story brought to mind:
* When a writer or company has an "As seen in" section on their site that mentions HuffPo, Entrepreneur, Business Insider, Fast Company, Forbes, Mashable, and similar sites that publish weak content compared to sites like Wired, for me they lose credibility rather than gain it.
* I had an Uber driver in SF recently who had launched his first album on Spotify. He mentioned that Spotify gets paid by record labels to include songs in their curated lists. (No wonder they are shit.) This is also an example of "payola" mentioned in the article.
I was having a similar discussion with someone else with respect to the "As seen in" section on people's sites. This means nothing.
I think it would be much more impactful to have social proof of impact instead - something like my content generates X signups/$ in revenue per year etc vs I showed up in so many publications.
Exactly. As this article shows, anyone can buy their way into these publications, which makes appearing in them meaningless, even damaging to your (personal) brand. Impressive metrics backed by social proof take more time to achieve but they mean more. Appearing in tacky publications is an easy "win" -- and the easy move is rarely the right move.
Thanks for sharing this unethical practice that is not new anymore. John Biggs of techCrunch, going by his experience is one of the few editors that believes so much in his credibility.
Big time brands created a department to cater for this major needs and it is fast becoming a norm in the Industry.
I think a vigorous campaign needs to be established to kill off this fast approaching and cancerous attitude.
Thanks for sharing.
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